After several decades as a successful film producer and financier in Los Angeles, last year Maggie Monteith “packed up the trucks” and moved to Georgia.
“I loved California, but I needed a new adventure,” Maggie says. “The films I was making were in an L.A. voice, but I became intrigued with the idea of making films that would endure in an authentic Southern voice.”
There’s a bit of charming irony listening to this native of Glasgow –– who will never lose the lilt of her Scottish brogue — talking about the voice of the South. “I was drawn to the material of the writers I had met from the contemporary South and wanted to explore that,” she says.
So Maggie and her husband started scouting from Virginia to Mississippi to find a new base. “When we realized we were constantly flying in and out of Atlanta airport, we asked, Why not Atlanta?”
Why not, indeed. They decided to stay, and she describes it as love at first sight.
But it was more than love. It was good business.
“Georgia had made a lot of smart moves to provide incentives for people like me who were investors in the film industry,” says Maggie. “In addition to the significant tax credit, we discovered amazing support for training and education of crew members across the state.
“What’s more, there has been increasing investment in facilities that are as modern and affordable as any in the country. Those advantages made it clear that moving to Georgia would be a good move.”
Not long after the move, she stared getting proposals she called divinely inspired. “The scripts were perfect, set in the South and easily filmed here,” says Maggie. “The locations fit the material. Dahlonega could be Dahlonega; it didn’t have to pretend to be anything else.”
She also found others with experience moving here from around the country.
“The talent needed to put out a big film doesn’t have to be imported,” says Maggie. “It’s already here.”
At the other end of the skill spectrum are the many opportunities for those just out of high school and college who want to step on the lowest rung to get a start in the business. Georgia, she discovered, encouraged her life-long passion for mentoring newcomers. “I’m gathering a coterie of beginners,” she says with pride. “Working with people who are excited about the opportunity is the most fun you can have.”
As a business executive with sidelines in fashion, film merchandise and film distribution, Maggie understands the value of the investment climate created by the tax credits. “It means we can increase the production budgets and therefore the quality of the films. We can afford better salaries. We can persuade more investors to participate. Everyone wins.”
That recognition makes her grateful.
“I’m benefiting from those who invested in the infrastructure of education and production,” Maggie says. “The groundwork has been prepared. I want ever so much to fit into and contribute to what’s already here. What a marvelous position to be in.”
This story is presented in cooperation with the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance.